In a statement issued on Saturday, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development announced the possible outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in Ramatlabama in the North West.
However, the department emphasizes that it is “at this time only a suspicion of an outbreak, based on positive serology results.”
“Epidemiological investigations are ongoing to confirm the presence or absence of virus circulation.”
The farm – where the virus was detected – is located at Ramatlabama, a village that borders Botswana. The department collected samples as part of a routine surveillance programme. No clinical signs were apparently noted at the time of sampling.
“The farm has been placed under quarantine, and follow-up investigations, including sample collection, are currently underway at the farm in question as well as on surrounding farms and towns. There has been no recent movement of animals from the farm in question to other properties,” the statement said.
Farmers in the North West are being warned to observe biosecurity measures and not to add any new animals to their herds. They are also advised to limit the movement of animals between farms.
“It is further requested that strict biosecurity measures be applied by biosecurity officers in all places where animals are gathered for sale.
“Any suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease in susceptible animals must be reported immediately to the local state veterinarian,” the statement said.
The department says foot-and-mouth disease affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and other animals with cloven hooves (domestic and game).
“The most important clinical features of the disease include fever, lameness and the appearance of blisters and sores in the mouth and on paws, teats and mammary glands. Pain and discomfort from these blisters and sores lead to other symptoms such as lethargy, excessive salivation, lameness and the reluctance to eat, move or stand.
“Foot-and-mouth disease is a serious, highly contagious viral disease that affects livestock and it has a significant economic impact.”
However, the disease cannot be transmitted to humans, so consumers have no cause for concern.